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 - UN Fails Qana

    UN Fails Qana, HRW Blames the Zionist entity

    BEIRUT — A divided United Nations Security Council has failed the Qana massacre test coming short of a clear condemnation and demand for an immediate ceasefire as requested by the UN chief, while the Human Rights Watch held Tel Aviv solely responsible for the grisly attack.

    "The Security Council strongly deplores this loss of innocent lives and the killing of all civilians in the present conflict," said a statement issued late Sunday, July 30, and cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

    The United States, in an emergency meeting of the Security Council, forced the 15-member body to water down its official statement, which was highly critical of the Zionist entity.

    US ambassador John Bolton led opposition to any stronger wording during another tough day of negotiations over Lebanon.

    "What we object to is conclusory language about the nature of the incident and language that attempts to foreshadow the political solution," Bolton argued.

    Washington had also block any condemnation of the Zionist entity in a statement released after the killing of four UN peacekeepers in a Zionist shelling last week.

    Qatar, which proposed the Qana measure, had wanted to call the attack "deliberate" and to call for a ceasefire.

    The council met in emergency session at the request of UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora after the Zionist raid left at least 60 people, including 37 children, dead.

    "We must condemn this action in the strongest possible terms, and I appeal to you to do likewise," Annan told the council.

    "I'm deeply dismayed that my earlier calls for immediate cessation of hostilities were not heard, with the result that innocent lives continue to be taken and innocent civilians continue to suffer," he said.

    The council asked Annan to report back on the details of the Qana attack in a week.

    "Free-Fire Zone"

    The New York-based Human Rights Watch said Sunday that responsibility for the Qana massacre rests squarely with the Zionist military.

    "Today's strike on Qana, killing at least 54 civilians, more than half of them children, suggests that the Israeli military is treating southern Lebanon as a free-fire zone," HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth said in a statement.

    "The Israeli military seems to consider anyone left in the area a combatant who is fair game for attack."

    He said the Zionist entity has no excuse whatsoever to target innocent civilians.

    "Just because the Israeli military warned the civilians of Qana to leave does not give it carte blanche to blindly attack," Roth said in a press release.

    "It still must make every possible effort to target only genuine combatants."

    Qana residents refuted the Zionist allegation that the village was used as a launch pad for Hizbullah's rockets, saying that no body has ever seen a Hizbullah launch pad or fighter in the area.

    Hizbullah, which has inflicted heavy losses on the invading Zionist troops, repeatedly gainsaid similar Zionist claims, insisting its fighters operate only from remote non-residential areas.

    Roth said such consistent failure to distinguish combatants and civilians is a "war crime."

    He further said the "appalling loss" of civilian life in Qana underscores the need for Annan to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate serious violations of international humanitarian law.

    The international watchdog said its researchers have been in Lebanon since the onset of the current hostilities on July 12 and have documented dozens of cases in which Zionist forces have carried out indiscriminate attacks against civilians.

    A report of these findings and their legal consequences will be issued later this week.

    Israel has faced widespread condemnation after the Qana massacre, with British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett dismissing it as "absolutely dreadful and quite appalling."

    The strike was less than a kilometer from the mass grave of 110 Lebanese civilians killed in 1996 when the Zionist entity bombarded their UN shelter.

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